Summer is a great time for enjoying the outdoors. However, it is also one of the noisiest times of the year, which can be hard on our ears. Here are a few tips and suggestions for enjoying the summer safely.
Protect Yourself While Watching Fireworks
Loudness is measured in decibels, with silence measuring at 0 dB. Any noise above 85 dB is considered unsafe. Most firecrackers produce sounds starting at 125 dB– 150 dB presenting the risk of irreversible ear damage. By following some simple precautions, people can enjoy the 4th of July festivities and still protect their hearing. Our advice is to leave the fireworks to the professionals and sit at a comfortable distance from the display, where you can enjoy the colors and lights, but not expose yourself and your family to loud noises. We also recommend using one of the forms of hearing protection listed below.
Protect Yourself in the Yard
According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), the average level of a gas powered lawnmower is 106 decibels. At that level, OSHA (Occupationa Safety and Health Administration) has determined that your hearing is only safe for 52 minutes. If it takes you an hour to mow the lawn and you are not using hearing protection, you are already damaging your ears. FYI, a chainsaw puts out 110 dB, which means damage occurs after only 30 minutes.
Protect Yourself At Concerts and Parades
If you enjoy summer concerts outdoors, keep in mind that they can get as loud as 110 dB – loud enough to cause hearing damage in as little as 30 minutes. To protect your hearing, make sure you’re wearing ear plugs and that they’re securely in place before the show begins. And be sure to keep them in for the entire show.”
How To Protect Your Hearing
Foam Ear Plugs
Let’s start at the most basic tool for hearing protection – the foam ear plug. You can stop by our office any time during business hours and pick up a pair of freemoldable foam ear plugs. They are small, light-weight, and fit easily into any pocket. While these earplugs are cheap (free in our office), the disadvantage is that they block out all sound—even the sounds that you want to hear. These are best for yardwork and fireworks where there’s not a lot that you want to hear anyway. Also, make sure that they are inserted correctly—one of our staff can show you how. If they are not inserted properly, they may not give enough protection.
Foam earplugs are great for occasional use, but for ease and convenience if you are using power tools every day, consider ear muffs. They are comfortable and easy to wear and you don’t have to worry about the fit. They are available for around $20 at any hardware store.
For serious concert-goers and musicians, consider custom hearing protection such as custom-made musician earplugs, made to fit your ears precisely with specialized filters that will not distort the quality of the music. You can also choose the level of noise reduction you require. Call our office to make an appointment to have impressions made of your ears and order these custom ear plugs. These earplugs will run around $100.
Noise induced hearing loss is preventable by simply wearing hearing protection. You may not notice immediate damage; but remember that exposure is cumulative through the years – so start protecting your hearing now.